INVESTIGATION: Female shoplifting on the rise at some Cleveland-area malls

Posted at 7:17 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 19:18:02-04

A string of shoplifting incidents at several local malls have one thing in common — predominantly female suspects. 

Strongsville police tell that women have made up the majority of shoplifting arrests at the South Park Mall for several years. But the number of female arrests is on the rise. 

In 2014, 66 percent of shoplifting arrests were female suspects. In 2015, 68 percent of shoplifting arrests were women. And so far this year, 71 percent all shoplifting arrests have been female suspects. 

Beachwood had nine reports of shoplifting involving female suspects at Beachwood Place over the last two weeks, according to police reports.  

A $5200 Chanel purse was stolen from Saks Fifth Avenue, along with clothing from H&M, jewelry from Claire’s and six different incidents at Sephora, racking up several hundred dollars worth of pocketed cosmetics. 

“From some personal experience, I know of girls who have shoplifted at Beachwood Place,” said one Beachwood shopper who asked only to go by the name Sue. “They’re testing the limits and seeing what they can get away with and it’s very hard on the parents.”

Beachwood Police declined to comment on any of the shoplifting cases and denied a request for an on-camera interview.  

But some police sources tell that the high number of arrests could have to do with increased shoplifter surveillance at many women’s stores, especially at cosmetics stores where small items like lipstick and mascara are easier to pocket. 

Westlake Police said that this summer shoplifting incidents are down at Crocker Park, with only 6 arrests so far this summer. But over the last two years the Victoria Secret store had issues with multiple customers stealing bras and underwear. 

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention told that statistically, men and women are assigned to court ordered prevention programs at an equal rate. 

But in some cases, organized crime retail operations may send women into the store to serve as the “booster” because they believe a woman could be less likely to be apprehended. 

“There could be others in this that could be men in the background doing the organizing of the situation,” explained NASP Communications Director Barbara Staib. 

But without knowing the motives, Staib said it’s impossible to explain why there might be a cluster of women being arrested at one time or another. 

A spokesperson for Sephora declined to comment on the pending investigation into several shoplifting reports. Saks Fifth Avenue did not respond to a request for comment.